Justice For All: Climate Change and the Energy Economy
The TakeAway: It’s time for us to reach across social and cultural divides to kickstart our economy and advance the cause of justice. One way of doing that is to address fear and mistrust head-on, and then work together to encourage more investment and follow-through in the energy economy—especially the job-generating Better Buildings Initiative.
Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s tireless efforts for simple justice—not just racial, but economic. So it’s a good day to celebrate continuing efforts to bring about economic justice, and contemplate what we, the people, can do to advance it. That’s why last week’s powerful speech by AFL-CIO chief Rich Trumka continues to resonate, especially when he said: “The truth is that in many places – and not just places where coal is mined – there is fear that the ‘green economy’ will turn into another version of the radical inequality that now haunts our society—another economy that works for the 1% and not for the 99%.”
Amidst the political gridlock and troubling gaps between the rich and everyone else, Trumka’s speech snapped everyone to attention and hammered home a message that helps loosen the lock and build a bridge. He appeared before a gathering at the United Nations of roughly 500 global investors and financial players concerned about climate risk. (The speech, which was streamed live, can be viewed online
). His remarks drew a standing ovation from the assembly, who together control $20 trillion and hail from four continents. They were in New York for the 5thInvestor Summit on Climate Risk and Energy Solutions, an annual affair organized by Ceres, United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP).
Trumka’s speech occurred near the end of a day packed with information on new ideas and financial products for scaling climate and energy solutions, how to make the clean energy transition in both the developed world and emerging economies, and how the financial community can influence social policy. Indeed, the day was capped by the release of the 2012 Investor Action Plan on Climate Change Risks and Opportunities, a 5-point manifesto for managing and integrating climate considerations into portfolio decision making—including the selection of investment managers, greater investment in low-carbon / energy efficiency solutions, and integration of water risk and opportunities.
But it was Trumka’s speech that dazzled, because it called upon investors, workers, environmentalists, and policy makers to remember the 99 percent and the need for shared respect in forging a new national commitment to economic recovery and sustainability. It underscored the critical importance for those of us working in the corporate governance, social responsibility, and sustainability space to do a better job engaging and enlisting the general public in building a better world.
Click on “Investor Summit Webcast Part Two (Afternoon)”; Trumka begins his speech about 14 minutes into the the session.
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